“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C.S. Lewis

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We all view our past in different ways. Some look at it with regret, while others see it as an opportunity for change. Dwelling on our past mistakes and letting those mistakes control us and affect our outlook on life is not healthy. We must learn to let go and move on with our lives as better, stronger individuals. Most of the time, this is easier said than done.

In order to let go of our past we must put our trust in God that we can learn from our past mistakes and there will be something better waiting for us in the future. When we let thoughts of our past consume us and the worries and anxiety of what the future holds to completely overwhelm our minds, we lose that trust and faith in God.

I looked up the words “trust” and “faith” and discovered that trust means, “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence”. Faith is defined as, “confidence or trust in a person or thing.” In scripture, faith is defined as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). I also looked up the word “doubt” and found that it was defined as, “to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.” When we make the choice to continue living in the past and pondering over all of our mistakes and failures, we start doubting that God can change us and make us into something better.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus, is by far my favorite character in the Bible. Think about his past. Paul was a Christian martyr, killing innocent people just because they believed in God. He later experienced a close encounter with God, which completely transformed his life. No longer was Paul a murderer of innocent Christians, but he became one himself. He devoted his time and energy to spreading God’s word and teaching others about Jesus. He was persecuted because of his beliefs, but that did not stop him from carrying out God’s plan.

Paul could have looked back on all that he had done and let the guilt from his past keep him from becoming a great disciple of Jesus Christ, but he didn’t. When writing to the church in Ephesus Paul says, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:7-12).

The next time you decide to focus your attention on your past, shift your focus to God and what He has planned for your life. Put full confidence that He will make you a better person. Learn from your mistakes, but never doubt what God can do with you now. I can guarantee His plans will be better than what you have for yourself.

Created in God’s Image

Too often these days, people are unhappy with their bodies and their appearance. They wish they were thinner, had more muscles, or were as pretty or as handsome as someone else. I have been a victim of this way of thinking and I know it’s an area where I could use some serious improvement. I know I’m not alone in this and I hope this post will change our way of thinking and help us to really appreciate the bodies God has blessed us with.

Each one of us is wonderfully and uniquely made in God’s image. We are all pre-planned by God even before we are born. How does that make you feel? Just knowing that our heavenly Father put that much thought into each and every one of us is amazing and unfathomable to me. God is so creative in how He formed and made us all so differently. There is no one out there just like you. There is only one you. Really, that should make each one of us feel pretty awesome.

As you may already have noticed, I have a slight obsession with quotes. I came across this quote just recently and it really puts this all into perspective. It reads, “God made you on purpose. You’re not an afterthought, you’re not on earth ‘just because’ and you’re not a random act of His creativity. You were given his 100% stamp of approval from head to toe before you were even born – and the moment you were, He beamed with joy” (Bonnie Rickner Jensen). There is also a Bible verse that really expresses how much God loves us just the way we are. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

The fact that God spent that much time and thought into each one us and that I repay that with negative thoughts about how I look and wishing I looked like someone else came as a slap to the face for me. I’m basically insulting God’s creativity and masterpiece that He formed. How dare I be so ungrateful and ashamed of how God made me? I should be thankful for what I have and that I am an original made by God. Each one of us is a God original. Each day we should thank God for all the blessings we have. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).

I’ll leave you with another quote I read the other day. I plan to post this quote somewhere where I can see it every day that hopefully will help me have a more positive self-image and truly be thankful for the way God made me.

“Each morning remind yourself,

I am a masterpiece.

I am handpicked by God,

and I am a person of extreme

value and significance.”

(Ritu Ghatourey)

Spiritual Food

We have all heard the famous saying, “what goes in, must come out”. This saying is so true and can be applied to many aspects of our life today. This will be my first attempt at relating a healthy life with your spiritual one. Hopefully the concept will be clearer when I compare the two.

When you feed yourself junk food, how do you normally feel? Tired? Sluggish? That’s how I feel. Before I lost weight, I ate all the wrong foods. It left me without energy and also brought down my confidence and how I generally felt about myself. Once I started watching what I ate and adding more nutritious foods to my diet I had so much more energy and my self-confidence rose. It was a drastic change to me and I like the difference so much that I don’t ever want to go back to filling myself with the wrong foods again.

Just like with our eating, what we surround ourselves with in this world affects how we feel. For example, if I was to go see a movie that had an enormous amount of language or immoral behavior, I’m filling my mind with ways of this world. The more I surround myself with what the world considers “normal” the more I conform to the ways of this world and turn from God and the kind of Christian I need to be. In fact, the Bible warns us against this very thing in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I can definitely tell a difference in my life when I don’t dedicate time and attention to God like I should. If I miss a devotional or forget to pray because” I don’t have enough time”, I begin to feel more discouraged and have a negative outlook on life, but if I get into the daily habit of talking to God and studying His word, my outlook on life starts to change. I feel uplifted, encouraged, and more joyful because I have spent time filling my mind with Godly and righteous things instead of worldly ways.

What we fill our hearts and minds with eventually becomes what we are. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”  Maybe challenge yourself this week to see if you notice a difference. Listen to only Christian music for a week or dedicate a time every day to really sit down and study God’s word and see how your life changes. Hopefully not only will you notice a difference, but other people will start to notice a change in you too. Maybe you’ll even inspire someone else to follow God and live a changed life through Him. This is really the way it needs to be because God wants us to be different from this world.

I’ll leave you with a couple more Bible verses to meditate over:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

“Believe you can and you’re half way there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

IMG_0351[1]This quote is written in a picture my mom gave me in May of 2011 when I reached the 50 pound weight loss milestone. Now almost two years later, it still hangs in my room as a reminder of the long and difficult journey that made me into the person I am today.

Believing in yourself is a big step in beginning any new path in your life. Without that belief, where would you be? What would be your motivation to begin your journey? If you already have this preconceived idea in your mind that you will fail at something, then you probably will. This reminds me of another quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right” (Henry Ford).

In order to be successful in anything in this world, you must first believe you are capable of accomplishing that dream. Here’s another quote, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark” (Michelangelo Buonarroti). As crazy as that sounds, I think that’s very true. I think that we are too comfortable where we are and are afraid of all we could accomplish if we just took that first step outside of our comfort zone. I used to be comfortable being who I was and NEVER took any risks in my life. At the time, I was okay with that and really didn’t see a need to change anything. But going down all the wrong roads has taught me that you have to take risks in this life if you want to grow as a person. I learned this the hard way and I still have a lot of work to do. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to be easy, because it’s not. But it will be worth it in the end.

Now relate this to your spiritual life on the talents that God has given you. Each one of us possesses a certain number of talents that we can either choose to use or let them go to waste. In Matthew 25, starting in verse 14, Jesus tells the parable of the ten talents. Basically, a master gives five talents to his first servant, two to the second, and one talent to a third. The first two servants put their talents to good use and theirs doubles. The servant with one talent hid his in the ground because he was afraid. When the servants return to their master he is pleased with all but the one who hid his talent. The parable ends by saying, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (verse 29).

If you already know what you’re God-given talents are and have been using them to fulfill His will, then awesome! But maybe you’re one of those people who do not know what their talents are. Or maybe you know what they are, but you’re just choosing not to use them because you’re afraid, just like the third servant.  I challenge everyone to put yourself out there and find out what you’re capable of. Sometimes all it takes is a little time spent outside your comfort zone to find your talents and start living your life to the fullest the way God planned for you.